Stop the car! I spotted this old farm door at the roadside one day and could not let it pass me by. Because it was free, I decided to give it a makeover only using found items and leftover supplies from other projects and turn it into garden art.
If you love repurposing old things, have a look at these recycled and repurposed projects in the idea galleries.
Trash to Treasure Roadside Finds
Sometimes you just have to stop the car, put it in reverse, and take action. That’s how I got this door. We were driving past a country farm near our house, the words FREE and HEY, I LOVE THAT whipped through my daydreaming brain, and I asked my husband to pull over and take us back to inspect the scene.
As someone with a very small car, it is remarkable what you can fit inside when determined. The guys at the lumber yard marvel at my ability to fit large wood orders in the car, and more than once I have managed to fit absurd amounts of too-good-to-resist curbside finds (like the 16 free windows I used for my mini greenhouse).
I always have a red safety flag in the car in case something needs to hang out the back to make it home. And, I should add, all these moves have been accomplished without having to leave any passengers behind. Impressive!
Taming the Beast of Stuff
My own desire to live lighter, without the burden of a bunch of unused stuff in our house (especially after applying the Kon Mari method to everything I owned), means I ignore about 99/100 cool, free items I see at the roadside. It pains me to see great stuff end up in the landfill instead of a furniture bank or thrift shop, but that’s simply a symptom of the dysfunction in our culture.
It’s expensive to move or store stuff, it can be difficult or impossible to find anyone to repair broken items, and the concept of furniture banks is very slow to spread. It’s probably only really going to change as resources become more precious to us and we shift back to a focus on long-lasting goods that can be repaired as needed for a good, long life.
If you share the desire to make better use of existing stuff, you are not alone. Repair cafes are popping up in cities around the world. The concept is, you take in an item you would like to repair or put in working order again, and, together with other interested volunteers, you figure out a fix. I love how the idea builds community and gives old stuff a new life all at once.
Farm Door Makeover
As much as possible, I try to repurpose things by making use of stuff I already own or have found (free). It was pretty easy for this door.
Here it is as we found it. As soon as we went to lift it into the car, I understood why the previous owners hoped someone would haul it away. It’s at least 50 lbs. It’s not in good enough shape to ever be used as an exterior door on a house, but it’s perfect for the garden. Or it will be after a makeover.
If you are a scavenger like me, one thing that makes me crazy is when people put stuff at the curb but do not indicate if it is for sale or free. Not wishing to commit theft, if it is unclear, I always go to the house to ask. For this door, there was no need as the instructions were nicely written in the window dirt.
The first step was to clean the door. It was quite a surprise when the dust and dirt washed off to reveal the door was actually bright yellow.
New Coat of Paint
If you’re dealing with something that may have paint containing lead, you can get lead paint test kits to check.
I opted to paint the door blue, to match the other furnishings in my garden including my shed door and garden art ladder, since I already had the right paint.
Whenever I see yellow and blue together, I think of Claude Monet’s kitchen and dining room. This book, Monet’s Table by Claire Joys, is about 10 years old and has some lovely photos if you can find it:
While I’m on the topic of Monet, there is also a lovely new book, A Day with Claude Monet in Giverny by Adrien Goetz, with gorgeous images (new and old) of his home, garden, plants, paintings, and life. I received a review copy from the publisher and, if you are a fan of this stuff, you will love the book. The cover cannot do it justice. There are wonderful images inside.
But, while I love how Monet played with contrasting colors, I opted for the blue that I’ve used in various places throughout my garden.
Jazz Blue Paint
Whenever I show something with this blue paint color, I get emails asking for the details. It is ‘Jazz Blue’ (Glidden Jazz 30BB 10/337). I am prone to decision-making paralysis when it comes to long-lasting color choices in the home and garden, so I let one of my kids choose this one when we gave the shed a makeover. It is rather odd how seemingly innocuous decisions can, at times, be so hard to make.
I gave the door a couple of coats to get it ready for life in the garden.
Dress Up Time
Now for the fun stuff. Keeping with the rule to just use what I had, I decided to junk up the door with stuff I had on hand.
Here’s what I used:
- The window is covered in a piece of chicken wire (see it at Amazon).
- The old tools were found at the side of road. I used scraps of wire to create hanging hooks.
- The old copper kettle has been in my garden for years. You may remember it from this feature on watering can art.
- The bracket for the hanging kettle was in a box of free roadside junk, picked up several years ago.
- The crystals hanging from the kettle were taken off a rather hideous-looking chandelier found on garbage day.
- The window box was a gift. It is lined with layers of burlap and old greenhouse plastic (the holes work for drainage).
- The plants were leftover from other upcoming garden projects.
- The door is standing on an old concrete post that I found dumped at the back of our yard when we moved here, probably from a former fence post.
- The entire thing is held in place with screws and wire on the back, middle of the door, affixed to an (existing) pipe on the wall.
Use What You Have
I would have preferred more trailing plants (‘spillers’), but, alas, I stuck to the rule of using what I had on hand. This said, I like it.
Here it is a few weeks later:
Free Farm House Garden Art Door
And that’s it! While we’re not changing the world or saving the environment, it’s always satisfying to find a way to give old stuff a new life. And it looks really sweet in the garden.
If you have a repurposed project to share, please post it on the Empress of Dirt Facebook page where you can also share pictures.
This project is included in this Empress of Dirt ebook:
25 Garden Art Projects & Ideas
by Melissa J. Will
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~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛